Arsenal: Arteta made 'surprise decision' over £27m star at the Emirates

Arteta coaching Arsenal.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta changing his starting line-up to accommodate William Saliba was a “surprise”, according to Daily Star journalist Paul Brown.

Three years after signing for £27m from Saint Etienne, the centre-back finally made his Gunners debut in their 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace on the opening day.

What’s the latest news involving Saliba?

Saliba joined Arsenal three years ago but spent the last three seasons on loan at St Etienne, Nice and Marseille, with the youngster continuously not deemed ready for Premier League action by Arteta.

GiveMeSport Transfer Verdict
GiveMeSport Transfer Verdict

But after winning Ligue 1 young player of the year, coupled with the five caps he’s won for France in 2022, the Gunners boss finally made the decision to bring Saliba into his squad.

After starting three of Arsenal’s final four pre-season matches, it became clear the 21-year-old was in line to make his Premier League debut at Selhurst Park.

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Let’s start easy: who’s this iconic character?

Saliba did exactly that, starting alongside Gabriel, with Ben White moving out to right-back to cover for the injured Takehiro Tomiyasu, who was unavailable.

What did Brown say about Saliba?

He told GIVEMESPORT: “It was really interesting to see Arteta change his line-up to accommodate Saliba, that was a bit of a surprise.

“He’s always appeared lukewarm when he’s been asked about him and the fact that he sent him out on loan and the way he’s treated Saliba never really suggested that he had a lot of faith in him.”

How did Saliba perform against Crystal Palace?

Considering it was Saliba’s Premier League debut, it really was an outstanding introduction to the Arsenal faithful.

According to WhoScored, he was the Gunners’ sixth-best player at Selhurst Park, although that doesn’t do him justice, with the young centre-back named as man of the match by Sky Sports.

Saliba made one successful tackle, one block and an impressive seven clearances, while his passing success rate was better than any of his teammates that started the game (93.8 per cent), with his performance leading to Gary Neville comparing him to a young Rio Ferdinand.

“It reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand.” he said. “He’ll actually get stronger, and his body will become more coordinated. He’s such a young centre-back still at the age of 21.”

Taking everything into consideration, not least the fact Arsenal were up against a Crystal Palace team that can really get going under the lights at Selhurst Park, it was an exceptionally good first showing from Saliba.

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